Japanese Harley WLA Racer

It’s amazing to observe that “US War Machines” like the WLA Harley-Davidson can be found intact, restored or turned into a chopper or racer in countries all around our world, including Japan. Very similar to the WL civilian model, the WLA (45″ or 740 cc engine and single-rider design) was produced to US Army specifications in the years during World War II (same engine powered the three-wheeled Servi-Car) 90,000 were produced during the war (along with spare parts, the equivalent of many more) and when the war ended they were sold as surplus and “civilianized”. Unusually, all the WLAs produced after Pearl Harbor (12/7/41), regardless of the actual year, would be given serial numbers indicating 1942 production. Thus, war-time machines would come to be known as 42 WLAs.

This 1942 WLA racer belongs to a certain Nishida from The Posh Factory, a shop both in Tokyo and Osaka specializing in custom bikes, Harley engine rebuilding and producing a wide range of custom parts (online catalog in English!.) He rebuilt this WLA to race 4 times a year in the AVCC (American Vintage motorcycle Competition Clubman road-race) in Japan and has had some great wins over the years. He states that racing this fine looking machine provides him with inspiration for creating new parts. Well, you can check on The Posh Factory Website.

10 Responses to “Japanese Harley WLA Racer”

  1. 1 Drake May 11th, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Nice piece of vintage racing.

  2. 2 chopmonster66 May 11th, 2011 at 8:41 am

    love to see these old bikes still running strong. and people with the passion to keep them going. have a 1948 80′ myself . working on a new chop right now with it…

  3. 3 Larry R May 11th, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Nice to see the old girl up and running. I had one in 1967, but I didn’t know enough to get it running. They are fun bikes. Thanks for the article.

  4. 4 luSca May 11th, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Nice! I like this paint!

  5. 5 live2rideaglide May 11th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Awesome vintage piece. Just looking makes you wanna jump on and go.

  6. 6 chopperfreak29 May 11th, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Nice to see another 42 WLA rider! This will be the 5th season that I’ve been beating the hell out of little chopper on a regular basis. It was my only means of transport for a few years there and it never let me down. You will never be able to convince me that any modern motorcycle will ever be able to compete with the unreal reliability and huge fun factor that comes with running a side valve 45. I’ve put thousands of miles on it in single trips and drove it to and from work every day. Better fuel mileage than all my friends. Ridiculously easy to get parts for. With the right mods it can be fast and reliable. People have been racing these things continuously for the last 70-odd years for a reason. If you treat them right, they’re damn near indestructable. I’ve changed the rings on the side of the highway and ridden the rest of the way home. Got t-boned by a deer on it last year and it stayed on two wheels and just kept on going. I’ve used barbed wire to jury rig the harness and get myself home. I can probably write for hours about it. Best. Bike. Ever.

  7. 7 Wiz May 12th, 2011 at 7:44 am

    The Harley-Davidson “45” Flathead is one of the most reliable engines ever built, because of it’s “Square” configuration, i.e. stroke to bore ratio. They have found them running water pumps in India, made with parts from motorcycles left over from WWII, still purring right along! Who says American stuff is JUNK!! Wiz

  8. 8 Wiz May 12th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    That thing is really SWEET!! Wiz

  9. 9 nicker May 12th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    A view into what it’s really all about:

    “…changed the rings on the side of the highway …. used barbed wire to jury rig the harness and get myself home. I can probably write for hours about it. …”

    So, there’s an insight (Biker litmus test, if you like) into why some people are worth listening to when others aren’t .

    Just something to think about before putting one’s mouth-in-gear at the next campfire chat.


  10. 10 infidel May 16th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    if you don,t love this you don,t like motor cycles

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Cyril Huze